UPDF rejects plea by Kenyan officials to allow Turkana pastoralists back
What you need to know:
- Last month, the joint security forces flashed hundreds of Turkana pastoralists with their thousands of livestock out of Moroto after they allegedly killed three geologists and two UPDF soldiers who had gone to pick soil samples in Lokisilei village in Lotisan Sub County.
The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and Police in Karamoja have paid deaf ears to the Kenyan officials pleading to them to allow Turkana pastoralists back to Karamoja for grazing.
Last month, the joint security forces flashed hundreds of Turkana pastoralists with their thousands of livestock out of Moroto after they allegedly killed three geologists and two UPDF soldiers who had gone to pick soil samples in Lokisilei village in Lotisan Sub County.
The Turkana are the second-largest pastoralists group in Kenya who keep on crossing to Uganda in search of pasture and water.
At least 40,000 Turkana pastoralists have been grazing their animals in Moroto, but after the incident, they were forced back to Kenya. This, according to their leaders, has resulted in the starvation of the animals, and some end up dying due to lack of water and pasture.
Mr Patrick Imaana, a member of the Turkana County Assembly representing Lokiriama, said that since Uganda flashed out Turkana from Moroto, they have so far lost 800 heads of cattle.
"Uganda is the only place where we come to look for pasture and water because back home, the environment is so hot that our cattle cannot survive in it. We plead to Uganda to please pardon the Turkana such that they can come back," he said.
Mr John Munyes, the former Minister for Minerals in the Kenyan government whose animals are among those that flashed out of Moroto, said Kenya does not condone criminality and appealed to Uganda to continue supporting the people of Turkana.
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However, Brig Joseph Balikudembe, the 3rd division commander said they will not allow any Turkana back to Uganda until Kenya hands over the suspects who killed the geologists and two soldiers.
According to him, although the Turkana officials handed over the guns that Turkana warriors took from Uganda soldiers after killing them, Uganda would appreciate it if Kenya handed over even the suspects and the guns they used to kill the geologists.
"There is no way that we can accept the Turkana to cross into Uganda without giving us the guns that the suspects used to kill our people, and also we need those suspects to face the law," Brig Balikudembe said.
He warned that any pastoralists who dare to cross to Kobebe grazing area will face it rough.
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Mr Josel Ngiro, a cross-border peace activist, however, called for dialogue saying many things can be resolved there.